Hundreds join Museveni in 10 Km walk around Kampala

Hundreds of Ugandans joined President Yoweri Museveni in 10.5km walk around Kampala as the Ministry of Health launched the National Day of Physical Activity, as part of a campaign to raise awareness on the growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Uganda.

The walk which started at Kololo Independence grounds attracted government officials and other ordinary Ugandans.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), NCDs, also known as chronic diseases or lifestyle diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioral factors. Examples of NCDs include; Cancer, Cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes, Obesity and Hypertension.

Results from the Uganda NCD risk factor survey (2014) showed that Ugandans are becoming increasingly physically inactive. High physical inactivity was noted especially among the urban population where 8% of adults were considered physically inactive compared to 3.5% among the rural population. People in villages engage in more ‘calorie-burning’ activities such as farming and gardening which counts as physical activity compared to urban dwellers.

While launching the National Day of Physical Activity, reiterated his call on Ugandans to change their lifestyles in order to avoid what he termed as lifestyle diseases.

“One simply has to change lifestyles, exercise and eat well. The increase in cases of cancer, diabetes, heart diseases especially in urban areas is because people eat too much and do not exercise” Museveni said.

The walk from Kololo airstrip

Sarah Opendi, the Minister of State for General Duties at Ministry of Health asked Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to designate walking lanes to provide safety for people who carry out physical activity on the roads.

“As roads are being designed, consideration needs to be made to make sure that everyone trying to be healthy is safe on our roads.”

According to Uganda Police, more than 73,000 pedestrians are involved in road accidents annually.

In addition to physical activity, the WHO representative, Dr Yonas Woldermariam said that people need to reduce on the amount of sugar that they consume.

“Between our consumption of sugar and lack of exercise, many people are living very unhealthy lives and dying. But to do this, we need a conducive environment to conduct exercise. The way we construct our cities needs to be made more appropriate to encourage people to exercise and be safe without accidents.”

Dr Jackson Orem, the Executive Director of Uganda Cancer Institute says more Ugandans need to become physically active to reduce the risks of acquiring cancer.

“Physical activity reduces the risk of getting cancer. In health, we want evidence-based medicine and for that matter, you have to have a dose of what are prescribed. It’s suggested if you do moderate physical activity five times a day, you reduce the risks of getting cancer by 47 percent,” Dr Orem said.

Dr John Omagino, the Executive Director of the Uganda Heart Institute said that more Ugandans need to be engaged in physical activity.

“Physical activity builds all the organs of the body. If you don’t balance your mouth, the result is abnormal body growth which leads to disease.  A quarter of our adult population is overweight and is at risk of acquiring cardiovascular disease,” Omagino said.

Dr Omagino adds that everybody should walk at least 1,000 steps a day. The doctor also urges all organisations to remove parking spaces for vehicles so that people walk to work instead of driving.